The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) has re-elected Gottfried Locher to head the organisation for a third term.
The Bernese theologian won 43 of 70 votes on Sunday evening, beating the Zurich-based pastor Rita Famos in an election that has been widely covered by the Swiss media.
Locher is a divisive figure among parts of the religious community, who see his ambition of serving as a kind of figurehead for Swiss Protestants and his religious zeal as deeply un-Protestant and more in line with the Catholic church’s teachings.
Locher first took office as president of the FSPC in 2011.
Delegates had been faced with a choice between two very different candidates, with the Swiss media even referring to a “historic duel”. Famos would have been the first female president of the FSPC.
The Swiss Protestant Church, faced with dwindling numbers, is currently undergoing radical changes. A constitutional amendment is underway aimed at uniting the loosely joined FSPC member churches under a new, and more unified, Protestant Reformed Church structure.
With his re-election, Locher will now be able to start implementing these changes, wrote the FSPC in a statement.